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Belgrade Media Report 26 July 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Friday 26 July 2019


• Vucic: Haradinaj? A real gentleman (Prva TV)
• Dacic: Another country set to withdraw recognition of Kosovo (Tanjug)
• Carnegie Moscow center believes Belgrade ready to settle for anything with Pristina (Beta)
• Hahn and Vucic discuss future steps on Serbia’s European path (Beta)
• Democratic Party of Serbia: Boycott of elections will have negative consequences (Beta)
• Djilas: Boycott of elections part of agreement with people (Beta)


Bosnia & Herzegovina
• DF VP Djonlagic: There is possibility to expel SNSD from parliamentary majority if they continue with obstructions (Oslobodjenje)
• SDA and HDZ B&H announce authority formation by September (N1)
• Presidency Chairman Komsic and CRO MP Orepic discuss open issues between BiH and Croatia (Dnevni list)
• Dodik: I will request changing of rules of procedure of RSNA in September (ATV)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Hahn: There are moments when the EU leaders have to deliver, and not only your country (Nezavisen vesnik)
• Zaev: If we let the opposition pick the prosecutor, we’re just as likely to see Gruevski appointed (Nezavisen vesnik)
• Philip Reeker visits Bitola and Mayor Petrovska (Nezavisen vesnik)
• Meta-Greminger: Mediate an all-inclusive dialogue to solve difficult crisis (ADN)

• Serbia complains about Romania blocking military transport from Russia (Romania-insider)

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Vucic: Haradinaj? A real gentleman (Prva TV)


Reacting to the return of Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj to Pristina, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic says that he presumed he will be released in 24 to 48 hours

Ramush Haradinaj, who resigned last Friday from the PM’s post, as a result of being summoned by the Special Court in The Hague as a suspect for war crimes on Kosovo, departed to the Hague on Wednesday, to return late last night to Pristina. “He is a real gentleman” Aleksandar Vucic said for Prva TV. “I’ve said that he will spend 24-48 hours there. Just to check hotel accommodation. He waited to come back at night, to make his return more impressive, as a real hero” Vucic concluded. “For me, those who took part in the prosecution of Serbs, and who committed other crimes, cannot be considered moral giants, although some people in Serbia perceive Haradinaj as such” Vucic added.


When asked about his estimate as to the potential resumption of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue under current circumstances, he said that he doubts that it would be possible. “We wait for the dialogue to be cancelled”, he said, reiterating that “this is not the EU’s defeat, as main mediator, it cannot be regarded as the defeat of Brussels”.  “Why should they care? As long as there is no conflict, they don’t care”, President of Serbia concluded.  Moreover, he said that it is not altogether true that Pristina disobeys both USA and EU. “Someone’s being insincere here, let the public conclude who. They are not more powerful than a world officials… They had brought them to power, they had given them independent Kosovo” he added.  He is convinced that justice will not be served. We have to continue with our fight, particularly strengthening Serbia in economic aspect, while the dialogue will be resumed sooner or later. Until then, Serbia have to show patience, react wisely, striding towards progress in numerous fields.


Dacic: Another country set to withdraw recognition of Kosovo (Tanjug)


Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic says in the Serbian Assembly that he hopes to announce another country’s withdrawal of Kosovo’s recognition in a day or two. Dacic stated that since so-called Kosovo declared its independence (in 2008), up till 2012, 84 countries had recognized Kosovo, while starting from 2014, when he assumed the role of Foreign Affairs Minister, 13 states had revoked Kosovo’s recognition, while seven states had recognized Kosovo’s independence.  “In a day, or two, I hope to have be able to announce the 14th country that had done that” Dacic concluded.


Carnegie Moscow center believes Belgrade ready to settle for anything with Pristina (Beta)


The Serbian authorities are already ready to sign any settlement with Pristina in exchange for guarantees that they will remain in power, the Carnegie Moscow Center believes. The fact that outgoing Kosovo Premier Ramush Haradinaj has been questioned by the Special Court in The Hague, (investigating crimes against Serbs committed during and after the Kosovo armed conflict), does not indicate swift progress in resolving the Kosovo issue. Based on previous experience, the Serbian leadership has been skeptical about this piece of news, considering it as yet another trick by the West to force Belgrade to make additional concessions, according to an article by the Russian think tank and research center.


The Center further believes that Haradinaj’s resignation, particularly if it results in a trial, will definitely influence Pristina’s actions in the future. “The Serbian leadership is basically ready to sign any settlement with Kosovo if it receives guarantees that it will not cause its ouster. If the Special Court located in The Hague could push the Pristina authorities in the same position, the Kosovo issue could be resolved successfully” the Center wrote.


The ease with which the West has allowed one of the key negotiators in the Belgrade-Pristina dialog to be summoned indicates that Western countries’ mediation in the dialog has begun to rely on completely different principles. “Pristina’s capriciousness and blackmail have caused so much weariness and stress in Washington and European capital cities that they have decided to devise a fresh new plan. Now, the West believes it is not Belgrade’s, but Kosovo’s elite which is obstructing the settlement of the Kosovo issue, and that it will continue to act accordingly in the future,” it is said in the publication.


Hahn and Vucic discuss future steps on Serbia’s European path (Beta)


The European commissioner for neighborhood and enlargement negotiations, Johannes Hahn, met in Belgrade, on July 25, with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and discussed “the future steps of Serbia on the European path.” Vucic and Hahn “gave particular consideration to the standstill in the Belgrade-Pristina dialog and the situation arising after the resignation of the premier of the interim Kosovo institutions, Ramush Haradinaj,” stated the office of the Serbian president. Vucic said Serbia had reacted to Haradinaj’s resignation “in a calm and responsible manner.” The Serbian leader thanked Commissioner Hahn for his understanding and engagement “in the unblocking of the Belgrade-Pristina dialog”, reiterating that Serbia “remains adherent to the policy of peace and cooperation, with the aim of preserving stability in the region.” Hahn commended Serbia for this stance and underscored his readiness to “try and help the creation of conditions for the resumption of the Belgrade-Pristina dialog.” Hahn urged Serbia, in the context of its European integration” to speed up the reform process and work on the rule of law with greater determination” the statement reads.


Democratic Party of Serbia: Boycott of elections will have negative consequences (Beta)


Opposition Democratic Party of Serbia president Milos Jovanovic said on June 25 that he opposed boycotting parliamentary elections, due in spring next year. Jovanovic said that a boycott would have more negative than positive consequences in fighting the authorities. He asked who would question the legitimacy of the government if the opposition did not run in the vote. “Fifty thousand of us? The West, which does not care? Who?” Jovanovic asked. He stressed that taking power was a process. “It will not happen overnight. It will not happen by means of a revolution. There isn’t strength for that nor are the circumstances right. There are no serious conditions for something like that. It will happen gradually… The next struggle is participating in the parliament. It is better for the opposition to take some cities in the country than none and for these cities to serve as a stronghold, or have 50 MPs in parliament and fight that way,” Jovanovic said.


The leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia called President Aleksandar Vucic’s announcement that he would call on international observers to check voter rolls ahead of elections “a simple trick and nonsense.” “I don’t lean toward having any observers. This is our own matter, a matter of principle. When someone talks about bringing in foreigners, this to me shows weakness and a lack of maturity, like accepting the fact that you are incapable of getting your own house in order,” Jovanovic said. He said that voter rolls “are not the biggest problem” when speaking of election conditions, but the media scene and the lack of political pluralism in the media.


Djilas: Boycott of elections part of agreement with people (Beta)


Dragan Djilas, one of the leaders of the Alliance for Serbia, has said that boycotting parliamentary elections under the current conditions was part of the Agreement with the People. In a July 25 interview with the NIN weekly, Djilas denied that it was he who had raised boycotting again, sparking turmoil in the opposition. “I didn’t raise anything. I just recalled what is written in the Agreement with the People, which was signed by 200,000 citizens,” Djilas said, referring to the opposition leaders who oppose a boycott. Djilas said that the signatories of the Agreement needed to show that they stand behind their promises to the people. “Article 2 of the Agreement states that we will not run in elections if they are not fair and that we do not accept the decisions of a parliament elected that way. Then someone comes and says that we should have a debate about that? You have debates before you put your signature on something and give your word. After that, you either implement that or go back on what you signed,” Djilas said. He asked, “what changed” since the Alliance for Serbia signed the Agreement with the People. “Have the media been freed? Are citizens no longer being harassed? Will there be no voting under duress?” Djilas likened the opposition in Serbia to a “liberation movement.” “In a liberation movement, you do not ask what the person next to you is like, you fight for freedom. We are fighting here for freedom, for the return of democracy” he said. Djilas also said that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic suits many in the international community because “he is selling Serbia off.” “He takes a USD 3.5 billion loan from the Chinese, gives them jobs without tenders and gifts Bor to them. He grants the Russians the job of doing railroads without a tender. He gives the American Bechtel the job of building a highway which not only do we not need but the price of EUR800m is absolutely unrealistic. The French get an airport” Djilas said.


Bosnia and Herzegovina


DF VP Djonlagic: There is possibility to expel SNSD from parliamentary majority if they continue with obstructions (Oslobodjenje)


DF Vice-president and state MP Dzenan Djonlagic said that DF has decided to be an active participant in the work of the authorities, which is why they decided to work with the partners who have the political capacity to form the authorities and implement strategic goals for the country, which includes the adoption of the Annual National Plan (ANP) for NATO. “Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) already has activated Membership Action Plan (MAP) on its own request… I must point out that cooperation with NATO is not against the interest of citizens of B&H; on the contrary, it can only benefit them considering that the ANP represents a tool for needed reforms B&H society must implement for the citizens to live in peace, stability and prosperity. At this point there is no stronger safety net than NATO… People need to be told that we need NATO more than NATO needs us.”


Asked if he believes that the new parliamentary majority can be formed at the state level, he said that it does not seem likely at the moment, even though there are some considerations and even a possibility of expelling SNSD from the majority. However, that puts implementation of the reforms in question because of possible blockade in the House of Peoples of the Parliament of B&H. “I do not think there is a serious analytical approach that would present all the benefits and shortcomings of such political move” said Djonlagic, but noted that the longer SNSD with help of HDZ B&H continues to obstruct the authority formation, this possibility will become more acceptable.


SDA and HDZ B&H announce authority formation by September (N1)


Leaders of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic and HDZ Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Dragan Covic announced this week that the authorities at B&H level will be formed by the end of September. Meanwhile, the parties that are in the opposition consider the formation of a new majority in case the current one does not manage to agree soon. The latest meeting of Covic and Izetbegovic did not bring any new information about the B&H authorities, but they both expressed belief that the authorities will be formed soon. Izetbegovic called the candidate for new Chairman of the Council of Ministers (CoM) Zoran Tegeltija to present a work plan for the new CoM in accordance with the law and Constitution. He added that the other issues can be negotiated. Izetbegovic said that he believes that the new plan should be similar to the Reform Agenda. He reminded that B&H has the opinion and recommendations of the European Commission and this should be used as a guideline for the EU path of B&H.


˝When it comes to NATO, the key thing that needs to be accepted is that work needs to continue within the legal framework. We are ready to accept that there will be no NATO membership until a new agreement at B&H level is reached˝ said Izetbegovic. Chairman of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic said that the NATO path of B&H cannot be negotiated. DF sees the statement of Izetbegovic as an attempt of SDA to concede to SNSD. Komsic said that such negotiation tactics are unacceptable to him. SNSD officials did not comment on the recent statements of Izetbegovic. President of SDS Mirko Sarovic believes that there will be no agreement soon. He confirmed recently that he is considering an alternative. Sarovic announced that SDS will discuss this issue with other political parties, but he did not provide more details. He stressed that the current situation is an example of political failure. Asked whether he is ready to be a Chairman of the new CoM, Sarovic said that he would be ready to take over this position. He added that adequate majority in the Parliament is necessary for this.


Reporter noted that it is mathematically possible to form a new majority in the B&H House of representatives (B&H HoR) in order to appoint the new CoM. However, this does not apply to the B&H House of People (B&H HoP), since SNSD has the majority in the Serb Caucus. Reporter noted that due to this, no law would be adopted.


Presidency Chairman Komsic and CRO MP Orepic discuss open issues between BiH and Croatia (Dnevni list)


Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Zeljko Komsic met with member of the Croatian Parliament and leader of ‘New Policy’ party from Croatia Vlaho Orepic in Sarajevo. Two officials discussed several open issues between B&H and Croatia, stressing the need to restore dialogue between the Presidency of B&H and senior Croatian officials in order to resolve the open issues, foremost the border at sea. Two collocutors agreed Croatia has the right to build the Peljesac Bridge and connect its territories, however two sovereign and friendly countries need to resolve the issue of border at sea and respect the territorial integrity of B&H. The meeting discussed several other issues such as use of Lake Busko, possible depositing of radioactive waste at Trgovska Gora and B&H’s unreturned property in Croatia. They also discussed about B&H’s NATO perspective and the need to cooperate on security issues such as the migrant crisis.


Dodik: I will request changing of rules of procedure of RSNA in September (ATV)


Member of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency and leader of SNSD Milorad Dodik announced for ATV on Thursday that he will request changing of the rules of procedure of the Republika Srpska (RS) National Assembly (RSNA) in September. According to Dodik, the aim would be to avoid scenes seen during the last session of the RSNA that remained topic of talks for days and to restore dignity of the RSNA. Dodik argued that this will disable degradation of the RSNA, while no one will be prevented from speaking. In his opinion, a discussion on one item of the agenda should be limited, as well as the time that parties have at disposal for a discussion. Deputy Speaker of the RSNA Milan Petkovic also said that the rules of procedure should be changed, admitting that there were some abuses. The reporter noted that the opposition reacted by saying that any kind of limitations represent discrimination and that rules of procedure must be respected and not changed. SDS MP Davor Sesic underlined that MPs should be equally treated, no matter whether they come from the ruling parties or the opposition which, in his opinion, is not the case right now. PDP MPs stated that they would limit the time of presentation of their stances only to guests in the RSNA.


Republic of North Macedonia


Hahn: There are moments when the EU leaders have to deliver, and not only your country (Nezavisen vesnik)


EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn arrived to North Macedonia on an official visit. Hahn and Prime Minister Zoran Zaev held a joint press conference where they discussed the implementation of reforms, current events in the country, North Macedonia’s date for accession negotiations in October, etc.


“The Republic of North Macedonia deserves the expected green light for opening accession negotiations in October this year for everything it had accomplished in the last years in implementation of reforms, the Prespa Agreement, bilateral agreement with Bulgaria. In order to achieve this, further implementation of the reforms is needed, especially to adopt the law on public prosecution, which provides important guarantees for the rule of law and an uncompromising fight against corruption and crime” EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said during the joint press conference with PM Zoran Zaev. “It is a national goal and everybody in the country should understand that they should work on it. Certainly, there are discussions and negotiations, everybody should be aware about the final goal the destiny of the country and hopefully everybody supports the necessary measures which are still to be taken in order to achieve green light in October for starting negotiations” Hahn said.


The EU Commissioner regrets that EU member states did not decide on opening accession negotiations in June, because you have achieved and delivered on everything, which was agreed.

“I am confident that on the basis of the EU leaders statement this decision will be taken in October. North Macedonia has worked hard for it and now it’s time for EU leaders to deliver. It is necessary to continue to implement reform measures” Hahn underlined. “North Macedonia worked hard and now it’s time for the EU leaders to deliver. There are moments when EU have to deliver and not only your country. It’s necessary to continue to implement the necessary reform measures. I am confident that on the basis of the EU leaders statement this decision will be taken in October,” Hahn underlined.


All parties and state bodies need to continue to show that determination to fight impunity and allow the rule of law to prevail. Efforts in this area have to continue to demonstrate as zero tolerance vis-à-vis corruption and organized crime. Member states are watching this process closely but above all it’s for the sake of the citizens that the functioning of the rule of law is guaranteed that it serves a society with institutions in which they can have trust, Hahn underlined.


“What is important for October is adoption of law on public prosecution which provides important guarantees for the rule of law. Now it’s time for all political parties to show responsibility in the interest of the country’s future and citizens. Everybody should focus on October to deliver on the necessary reforms in order to give further strong tailwind to the country and to next step, we want to see. The region needs this very positive signal in order to redynamize and reenergize the all accession and European perspective of all six countries in the region. There is a regional responsibility on top of country’s specific one and one should be aware about these opportunities and but also responsibilities” Hahn said.


PM Zoran Zaev said that the country deserves to receive a date to open EU accession negotiations, because it has worked hard for the past two years. I am confident that in October, finally, after 15 years, will get the long-awaited date to launch negotiations. In the meantime, he said, we will continue to work on reforms so as not to give the EU an alibi for a different decision. He said that the government is open for cooperation with the opposition on all key issues important for the interest of the citizens and the country. “Last year in June, the EU gave four concrete goals in our country – judiciary, fight against criminal corruption, security service reform, and public administration reform. The implementation of the set goals was confirmed in the EC report on May 29. Based on that report, the EU takes a decision. The decision was postponed for October for technical reasons due to the European elections” Zaev said at the press conference. “Until October we are to remain committed to sincerely and honestly wrap up reform processes although it is not necessary for us to continue with the same pace, with the same dynamics, especially in the end of the reforms of the judicial system. With the new draft law on public prosecutor’s to be a country that closed all the issues to get start date for negotiations” Zaev said.


He told Hahn that in October we expect the EU to keep its promise and announce that the country can start EU accession negotiations. “This will not only confirm our desire and expectations, but also the recommendations in the EC’s Report that North Macedonia is a shining example as well as in the conclusion of the EU General Affairs Council will revert to the issue with a view to reaching a clear and substantive decision as soon as possible and no later than October 2019” Zaev said.


Zaev: If we let the opposition pick the prosecutor, we’re just as likely to see Gruevski appointed (Nezavisen vesnik)


“If we let the opposition pick the prosecutor, we’re just as likely to see Nikola Gruevski appointed, as their only goal is to obstruct justice” said North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev during the session in Parliament. In response to a question by MP Muhamed Zekiri whether the opposition will be nominating the public prosecutor, PM Zaev said: “I don’t see why they should be given a chance, given their behavior. “Nominating Vladimir Panchevski—a man who spent his entire term in office giving cases to judges of his choosing, a man who abused the law and the entire judges assigning system—is only meant to block justice in the country” Zaev said. He added that the government had accepted a lot of requests made by VMRO-DPMNE regarding the Law on the Public Prosecution.


Some of these requests were to integrate the SPO into a different prosecutor’s office and not to use any wiretapped conversations as evidence in investigations started after June 30, 2017. “The SPO’s term is until September 15, 2020, and it will stay operational because this term guaranteed its future” Zaev said, adding he believes “things would fall into place as discussed by working groups and even Mickoski, on several occasions, so we can finally pass this law.”


Philip Reeker visits Bitola and Mayor Petrovska (Nezavisen vesnik)


U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker visited Bitola, where he met with Bitola Mayor Natasha Petrovska. Reeker, who previously served as the ambassador to the country from 2008 to 2011, said it was his pleasure to be visiting Bitola again. He was also accompanied by US Ambassador Kate Byrnes during her first visit to the Municipality of Bitola. According to the US diplomat, Bitola is a city having strategic role in both the economic and political life of the country. Highlighting future cooperation, Mayor Petrovska thanked for the support Bitola has been receiving from the United States. Reeker’s next stop as part of his visit to North Macedonia is Skopje, where he will meet with President Stevo Pendarovski, PM Zoran Zaev, Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, MPs and opposition leaders.




Meta-Greminger: Mediate an all-inclusive dialogue to solve difficult crisis (ADN)


President of the Republic, Ilir Meta received on Thursday the OSCE Secretary General, Thomas Greminger. During this meeting, President thanked Greminger for the support provided by the Secretariat and by the Secretary General himself, for the preparations that Albania is making for its OSCE Chairmanship in Office in 2020. “This is a major endeavor that requires the commitment and cooperation of all political and institutional factors in the country” emphasized President Meta. After informing him on the deepening of the overall, political and institutional crisis that has overcome the country, the Head of State urged the OSCE Secretary General to mediate as soon as possible among the political parties in the country to resolve this crisis.

“The OSCE is of a special importance for Euro-Atlantic security and for Albania in particular. It is the first multilateral organization in which Albania adhered after the fall of communism and has given continuous support to strengthening democracy and the rule of law in our country.

For the restoration of the normal functioning of democratic institutions and avoiding the further escalation of the country’s critical situation, it is in the interest of OSCE credibility to engage as soon as possible in overcoming the grave crisis in Albania. This engagement will serve Albania to return to the tracks of democracy and the rule of law and to consolidate its leadership as a factor of stability in the region during next year OSCE Chairmanship in Office. While we expect that on October 17-18, the Council of the European Union will decide on the opening of the accession negotiations, it will serve also to the European future of the country” President Meta said. “Despite the ongoing and concrete efforts, I have taken so far to prevent this situation, efforts that have been mined by various actors, I am even more convinced now that the only way is the all-inclusive and sincere political dialogue that will give a complete and final solution to this crisis” concluded President Meta.


Greminger said that the OSCE is ready to provide support for the resolution of the crisis in Albania, but the solution must come through a comprehensive and in-depth dialogue. “Undouble we do follow the political developments in Albania closely. We hope that the stalemate will be resolved soon. I believe that the solution will be internally but we will encourage dialogue. It is necessary for all actors to engage in the functioning of democracy. The OSCE is ready to provide support, but no solution can be sustainable unless all actors are involved” Greminger said.




Serbia complains about Romania blocking military transport from Russia (Romania-insider)


Romania has blocked a transport of military vehicles, namely tanks and armored vehicles, from Russia to Serbia, a Belgrade official reported, accusing Romania of violating the Convention on the Navigation on the Danube.

Romania has prevented a transport of 30 T-72B3 tanks and 30 BRDM-2 armored vehicles from Russia to Serbia on the Danube, balkanist.ru wrote citing RIA agency “Novi Deni,” local Adevarul reported.

The information was confirmed by Miroslav Lazanki, a well-known military journalist from Belgrade and a member of the Serbian Parliament. In Belgrade, this decision is interpreted as a violation of the Convention on the Navigation of the Danube, balkanist.ru read.

Earlier in 2017, Romania and Bulgaria banned the transit of MIG fighters given by Russia to Serbia, under the provisions of NATO Treaty. Russia had, at that time, to break down into pieces the jet fighters and reassemble them in Serbia.

Serbia is a traditional ally of Russia, and Moscow wants to expand its influence in the Balkans to counter the expansion of the North Atlantic Alliance. Serbia has signaled that it wants integration into the European Union but has not declared its willingness to join NATO.

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